Posts tagged: Facebook
At a rcent media event, I watched as a friend showed another woman—a professional photographer—her latest post on her Instagram feed, the mobile application that allows anyone to take photos with a smartphone camera and then manipulate them, filtering to add color, texture, vintage graininess or even bizarre special effects, before posting online.
“That’s pretty, but it’s crap,” the photographer said dismissively. “Those photo apps let people who don’t know what they’re doing take a bad photo and then ‘save’ it by adding special effects. It’s basically junk.”
My friend laughed off the other woman’s dismissive and, to be blunt, rude, words and moved on.
I’ve heard that kind of exchange before and it always strikes me as foolish. Photo apps are creative toys, outlets for expression, not a threat to professionals. And there’s a reason they are so popular. A photographer with skill and the right equipment can take a technically perfect photograph. But sometimes technically perfect is just not real enough.
It’s the same with words. If I were to tell you that recently, at the Peaks of Otter Recreational Area near Bedford, Virginia, I walked a trail to the top of a mountain on a 67-degree weekday in October, climbing until I stood at the overlook gazing down at a forest of hardwood trees that were no longer photosynthesizing, and then when I had seen enough I took the rocky path back down, you’d have a pretty good idea of what I’d done and where I’d been. But I wouldn’t have communicated in any way what I felt.
But when I tell you that not too long ago, on what felt like a perfect fall day, breathing in cool air scented by forest smells of fallen leaves and woodsmoke from distant cabins, the sun warming my back, I climbed a winding, rocky, path crisscrossed by the roots of the gnarled trees that clung to the rich dark soil of the southwestern Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains and when I reached the stacked-stone overlook I stood still and silent as my heartbeat slowed, gazing out as far as the eye could see at a beautiful carpet of golden Hickory and scarlet maple treetops; when I tell you I stood there a long time taking it all in, acknowledging my instinctive reaction to the beauty of the season before turning to make my way back down the steep path, I bring you a little closer to my experience.
I think that’s the appeal of Instagram and other mobile phone camera apps. They let us take what we see and paint the image with nostalgia, sentiment and other emotions.
Of course, there’s a time and a place for artistic license. I carry a professional camera with me wherever I travel, and the camera on my iPhone 4s is surprisingly good. I shoot on both so I come home with a not just a photo suitable for traditional publication, but, because I love the creative flexibility, I usually post a lightly-filtered or focused version of the same image online on my Facebook page, Instagram feed and Tumblr blog. One captures what I saw, the other what I felt. But what’s most interesting to me is the reaction many people have to a filtered image. They look at it longer, closer. Perfect focus, balanced composition, color and scale, draw our approval. But emotion, the “junk” so many deliberately remove from their work, draws us in.
(Click “Continue Reading” to see an unflitered view of the cover photo.)
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have signed up to use Facebook, you’re probably familiar with the way the online social media format plays social matchmaker. Not in a romantic way, but by suggesting people you might want to add to your contact list. People who are friends with your friends. People who have some kind of connection to you.
Occasionally, this works. You see a familiar face, an old friend, a co-worker, a former classmate, you didn’t know had signed up and it’s nice to add them to your contact list.
At other times, you are prompted to to catch up with an old friend. People to whom you are already connected but may not interact with on a regular basis.
Sometimes this is a good thing, as well. It reminds you to check in with someone you like. Someone who is probably as busy as you are. Someone you might like to talk to more often.
But then, occasionally, an unsettling thing happens. Occasionally, a face pops up that is startling. A face you can’t reach out and touch no matter how much you might like to.
In the last year, three people I knew and liked died. They were all too young, all under 50. All three were Facebook friends.
At least once a month, when I log on I’m prompted to get back in touch with one of them.
At first, I cringed whenever one of the faces popped up on my computer screen. I was reminded again, in a most impersonal way, that they were gone forever. One more time the sad story behind each death passed through my mind.
But now, each time I see their photos, I take a minute and I reconnect with their memory. I stop and remember a time we spoke or laughed. I think about the spouses, the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and the children left behind. I honor them.
I’m sure this is not what Facebook intended, but after thinking about it, I decided to accept the random gift of memory. To be grateful for it.
My friends were here with us and each led a rich and productive life. They worked and played and loved. They built careers and relationships. All three battled the disease that eventually killed them with dignity and grace and amazing courage. Now, through no fault of their own, they are gone
But gone doesn’t mean forgotten.
So, when I open my computer, when I log on to Facebook to see what friends and family are up to, or to post a photo and update my own profile, I glance at the top of the page.
I make a new friend. Sometimes I reconnect with an old friend. And once
in a while I take a moment to think about a friend I will never see
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com.